Podium Finish After the Longest Battle
The Prodrive Ferrari team finished a disappointed 3rd and 4th in class today (9th and 11th overall), after having led the GTS category for many hours and seemingly been poised to repeat last year's victory. It was, however, a huge achievement to have both cars through to the chequered flag, and Colin McRae's debut at the 24 Hour classic was enhanced by his car's podium finish.
Technical problems thwarted both Care Racing owned Ferrari 550 Maranellos in their bid for GTS honours, despite the best efforts of the six drivers and the magnificent endurance and teamwork of everyone on the Prodrive Ferrari team. Spins were a feature of everyone's track time, and both cars lost considerable advantage over their competitors through enforced pit time for repairs to incidents and accidents that occurred throughout the race. Car 66 was particularly unlucky to suffer a wheel bearing failure in the last quarter of the race while holding a commanding lead.
Frederic Dor, Team Owner, Care Racing: "I think we could say we enjoyed 99% of this race but in some you have some luck and in others you don't. We were the fastest GTS car in qualifying and had, with the Prodrive supported Larbre Ferrari, the three fastest GTS lap times in the race. The only thing that was missing was the victory."
Prodrive Ferrari Team Director, George Howard-Chappell: "We tried our best and it was very close but that's racing. When we found that the 66 car was more damaged than we had originally thought, we realised that victory would be unlikely but no one can deny it was a classic race and the way it see- sawed between us and Corvette was fantastic - no one could have predicted the outcome."
Tomas Enge: " Last year we were very lucky all the time, having hardly any problems and our car was very quick. The Corvettes had a lot of problems last year and I think that it was our turn this year. It's very difficult to drive here with so many slower and less experienced drivers and there was a lot of oil and debris around the track. A lot of accidents everywhere, and I spun twice during the race on oil so it was really difficult. If you don't have any problems at Le Mans then you are the luckiest men in the world on this particular weekend. "
Colin McRae: "It was a great experience. A lot tougher than I anticipated and I was thankful that I had a team like Care Racing and the boys from Prodrive looking after me. The race itself was what everybody was waiting for and there's such a gradual build up to it but when it does arrive on Saturday afternoon there's a tremendous atmosphere. Obviously, being the rookie of the team, I needed a lot of support and help to get me up to speed which I got from Darren and Rickard who I have to thank for that. It was also nice to work with some familiar faces on the team from the old rally days and Dave 'Wilks' Wilcock did a superb job of keeping me pointing in the right direction - most of the time! Will I come back? We'll have to wait and see."
Peter Kox: "Care Racing and Prodrive have done a tremendous job between the official test here in April and now and I don't think that anyone expected to see our level of performance. The car was really competitive and that was even more impressive given the time that we had available to prepare for the race, which wasn't long. They say you win a race like this in the preparation, not on the day itself, but I think we did very well considering".
Alain Menu: "I thought that when I was ready to get into the car at 11.30 that was it, we were going to win it. But that's Le Mans!"
Rickard Rydell: "I'm really pleased that we finished the race in 3rd. We showed that we had the fastest car in the race which was good for all of us. I enjoyed driving with Colin and Darren and I'd like to come back again with Prodrive."
Darren Turner: "I think we did really well as a team. We had a good start to the race even with a difficult handling car which was different to anything we'd had at any other time during this week. We all managed to deal with that without it costing us time. I was pleased with my first stint, to get in front of the Corvettes and keep Peter honest. It was just a shame that quite early on we had a few technical problems that cost us quite a bit of time in the garage. We certainly had the pace with the car once we made a change and that was definitely one that could have won the race if we'd not had the problems we did. I've really enjoyed working with Rickard and Colin and I think for his first endurance race it was a great effort."